Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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Afton resident Mille Porslid is still barking up the wrong tree, at least in the minds of several residents and some of the Afton Planning Commission members. The Afton Planning Commission held a public hearing on Jan. 3 for a proposal to amend the city's kennel ordinance. "This was the first meeting I felt that everything was on the table," Porslid said. "At least now there's a desire or willingness to really look at this." The Planning Commission recommend denial of the ordinance, not because of changes, but because of certain requirements missing and improper language.
Most fourth- and fifth-graders probably have not seen the world, but that hasn't stopped them from knowing all about its geography. Fifth-grader Angad Cheema took the gold at Bailey Elementary's annual Geography Bee on Jan. 13 in the school's media center. "I was excited to win," Cheema said. "Geography is just something that I like for some reason." Cheema walked away with a certificate, a medal and a trophy. He will advance to the next level of competition, a written examination to determine state competitors. The top 100 competitors will be eligible to compete in the state competition.
Making friends in school is something many students struggle with. Valley Crossing Community School taught its students the valuable lessons of friendship and social interaction during two separate performances, produced by CLIMB Theater, on Jan. 6. "We really believe the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum because they need to feel good socially in order to learn," Valley Crossing teacher Heather Bovee said.
High school students today live in a fast paced world with classes, sports, activities and jobs. One Woodbury High School activity, however, is hoping to get students to slow down and take time to knit. "Knitting is a closet activity, it's a stress free activity," WHS teacher Rachel Nicholas said. "You can just sit down in a mindless way and just knit." The WHS knitting club meets a couple times per month before school on Fridays. The first-time group has about 20 members. "For a new club to have this many kids, is pretty fantastic," Nicholas, who is the knitting club advisor, said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of stories on the recipients of the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce award for educators, business organizations and citizen of the year. In spring 2008, East Ridge High School was nothing more than a dream and a vision. It was thanks to the hard work of the 23 individuals on the East Ridge Planning Team that the vision became a reality.
Some computer types might have the stereotype of sitting in their rooms and never seeing the light of day, but nothing could be further from the truth for the guys over at Data Doctors Computer Services. Data Doctors owner Paul Schmitz and his band of computer problem-solvers can oftentimes be found out in the community volunteering and doing what they do best -- fixing computers. "If there's a computer problem that's what we do -- we're problem solvers," Schmitz said.
Afton will be getting a new staff head coming into 2011. The Afton City Council came to a consensus at a worksession on Tuesday that assistant city administrator Sara Irvine will take up the top spot in the coming weeks. "We feel that Sara is ready to have a chance as administrator," city council member Joe Richter said. Interim city administrator Ron Moorse, who was began in May, will remain on as a consultant for large-scale projects such as the 2008 Comprehensive Plan and the Old Village infrastructure projects. "I think that's a great idea," Mayor Pat Snyder said.
Joua Lor and Elvis Lee, of St. Paul, celebrated the birth of their daughter Lilah at 12:55 p.m. New Years Day at Woodwinds Health Campus. Lilah wasn't the official first baby of the new year at Woodwinds however. That family chose not to be recognized. Joua's due date was Jan. 2, but a New Years baby wasn't really on hers and Elvis' radar. "But, we'll never forget her birthday," Elvis said. Meanwhile, an Oakdale couple's son was recognized as the New Years baby at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater.
The city budget for 2011 will see a slight decrease, but the property tax levy will see a slight increase. The Afton City Council voted 5-0 Dec. 28 to approve a budget of $1,078,623, a decrease of $4,471, or .04 percent, from the 2010 budget. The 2011 tax levy was approved at $1,560,836, which is an increase of $44,578, or a 2.94 percent, over the 2010 tax levy.
Families in the Stillwater Area School District will get their chance to speak against, or in support of, boundary changes at three public hearings in January. District 834 began work on revising its attendance boundaries in October as part of its Vision 2014 since the district currently has two elementary schools -- Lake Elmo Elementary and Rutherford Elementary -- are over crowded. Lake Elmo Elementary currently has 778 students enrolled, which is at 104 percent capacity, and Rutherford Elementary has 766 students which is at 103 percent capacity.